Wednesday, May 30, 2007


There are lots of ways to measure the experience of my journey, in statistics, experiences and emotions, to mention a few. First, the stats: 6817 miles flown, averaging 325 per day; 66.7 actual flight hours, averaging 3.2 per day; 25 airports visited; longest distance traveled in one day - 940 miles (Rapid City, SD to Hamilton, OH).

Coolest places visited that I would want to see again: Austin, TX, northern Arizona, Martha's Vineyard, out-of-the-way places in California, and (of course) anywhere along the Carolina Coast.

I can't begin to tell you what this trip meant to me - on so many different levels. Having three weeks alone to reflect on what is important in my life is probably the most significant. There's lots more to say about that, but you'll have to read the book I intend to begin writing as soon as I find a publisher. The richness of this experience is unparalleled in my life. Besides making me a better and more confident pilot, it has made me a better and more confident person. As much as I like flying, it's the rest of my being that needed the most work.

God bless, and I hope to write more again some day.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Final Stop

My route back to Mt. Pleasant from the Carolina coast was through Charlotte, home to my younger daughter, Emily. She and her roommate share a townhouse right across the street from Southpark Mall, the shopping mecca of Charlotte. Her college degree from Appalachian State is in Music Industries. She's part of the mangement team for Sephora, the high-end cosmetic, fragrance and skincare company owned by Louis Vuitton. Emily was always the "let's get dressed up and play Barbies" daughter who was into make up and outfits. She's all grown up now, but it's hard for Dad to not think of her as the queen of the playroom fashion shows. I'm very proud of her and feel very fortunate to live as close as I do (90 miles).

Being in Charlotte also gave me an opportunity to catch up with a friend who worked for me at two different TV stations - WHBQ (Memphis) and WSOC (Charlotte). Phil Tribo and I hadn't seen each other for 16 years. He now has two daughters of his own and a career as a media producer for Bank of America. Like so many others, he put in more than his share of hours and years of his working life in TV news and decided there were other things that needed more of his time. But he reminds me of the hundreds of people I hired over the course of my career whose lives were shaped, in some part, by the experiences we had working together. It's all part of me, too.

Friday, May 25, 2007

On Hallowed Ground

For a pilot who's living the dream of a cross-country journey in a private airplane, flying into the First Flight National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, NC is quite a proud and emotional moment. It is a very special place to all who visit. But when you arrive by flying there in your own airplane and land at the park's small airstrip you feel like you're being welcomed into the legacy to which the memorial is dedicated. It is a shrine to the perserverance and courage of two men from Ohio who came to the Carolina Coast to pursue their dream. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to pursue mine.

The Carolina Coast

I have made Wilmington, NC my base for the last couple of days, taking day trips by air south to Hilton Head and north to the Outer Banks. The weather has been perfect for flying, albeit a bit windy at times. In the photos below are (l) Charleston and the new Ravenel Bridge that crosses the Cooper River over to Mt. Pleasant, SC, the Cape Fear River harbor that's on the right while on final approach to Rwy 6 at the Wilmington, NC airport (ILM), and a shot looking west across Lake Moultrie at sunset while flying back to Wilmington from a $100 hamburger trip down to Hilton Head.

Everyone who lives close to a coastline has their own favorite places to visit along the water. As for me, it would have to be the area just north of Charleston. We've rented the same house right on the beach at Wild Dunes twice in the last year and I'd go back in a heartbeat. Even though I was born a Yankee, this is home for me now. And you know what they say about home. It's where the heart is.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

From Sea to Shining Sea

This trip has taken me to both coasts and lots of places inbetween. The aerial views of New York City (l & r) and Block Island (below)
are ones that I captured on the flight from Martha's Vineyard to the Washington, DC area. After taking off from the Vineyard, my route of flight was mostly over water, flying over Long Island Sound just to the south of Groton, CT and north of Long Island. I was on a published air route that took me west to directly over JFK airport, southwest to the east of Philadelphia and over Dover, DE into the Baltimore area. I stopped for lunch and refueling at the airport in Frederick, MD. Unfortunately I was not able to hook up with friends I had hoped to see while I was there.

The Island of the Rich and Famous

The first lesson I learned when arriving on Martha's Vineyard: never go anywhere without your camera. Everywhere I turned there is another picture to take. The natural beauty is astounding. Not to mention the trappings of the Rich and Famous whose imprints are all over the island in their haunts and houses. My tour guide for the day was Doug Jones (lower left) who I knew from Cleveland. Doug is an Account Executive for Time Warner and mine was one of the stations in his territory. He travels the Eastern U.S. but comes home to live on the Vineyard. It was my good fortune that Doug happened to be at home the day I arrived and generously offered to take me on a tour of the island. Later that day I met Doug's wife, Jeanne Staples, who joined us for a lobster dinner. Jeanne is an oil-color artist whose works are displayed in a gallery on Martha's Vineyard as well as in New York and elsewhere. That's Doug (lower left) behind the wheel on our island tour. Wife Jeanne Staples is with Doug at dinner (lower right). The photo above is one that will define my memory of Martha's Vineyard. It is the lighthouse overlooking the Aquinnah Cliffs (formerly known as Gay Head). The recent name change was in deference to an Indian tribe that settled that part of the island. It is the westernmost tip of Martha's Vineyard.

The scene in the middle photo below might look familiar to fans of Jaws One. It is Menemsha Harbor, which became Amityville in the movie. There are still some vestiges of the production props, but it takes a knowledgeable local to show you where to look. As for some of the other notable sights, lower left across the water in the middle of the row of houses is the backdrop for the remake of Sabrina. The house is also formerly home to Billy Joel. If you click on the gravestone picture (lower right) you'll see it marks the burial place of John Belushi. Doug told me Belushi's fans will frequently leave beer cans as an offering to the departed star. The inscription on Belushi's headstone reads "I may be gone, but Rock and Roll lives on."

One last photo from the tour. To the right is the home of Bob Villa. I didn't get close enough to see if it needed any painting or repairs. There are lots and lots of other photos, but they'll keep
for another time. Martha's Vineyard is really a special place. If you can ever put it on your itinerary, I highly recommend making a visit. I hope you're lucky enough to know a local as generous and knowledgeable as Doug Jones who can take the time to show you around!

Pilots of the Future

My older daughter, Sarah, teaches special ed at a public school in Utica. She has been using my blog as a teaching tool for lessons about geography and aviation. She invited me to talk to her students while I was there. They were very interested to know about the airplane - how big it is, how much fuel it carries, how far
I've traveled, how fast it goes, and so on. One of the students had even sketched the airplane, tail number and all. One of my props was the headset, which all of the students wanted to wear. Taped to the board is the IFR enroute chart, with yellow hi-lites over my proposed route of flight from Utica over to Martha's Vineyard. Lots and lots of questions from a very interested audience. I'll bet there's at least one future pilot among them.